From £9,7207
New Corsa’s turbocharged 1.4-litre engine majors on torque and frugality, but might not appeal to keener drivers who like vivacious petrol units

Our Verdict

Vauxhall Corsa cornering

All-new Vauxhall Corsa raises its game with the end result being a classy supermini that’s decent to drive, but still short of the benchmark set by the Ford Fiesta

Steve Cropley Autocar
16 October 2014

What is it?

It’s all very well for Vauxhall to come out with cheap, youthful and quirky three-cylinder versions of its much-improved new Vauxhall Corsa, but there also needs to be one for the traditionalist who wants more open-roads oomph that the average low-powered city-car versions, and is prepared to pay for it.

The 99bhp, four cylinder, 1.4-litre turbo version is just that car. We drove it in slightly sporty SRi guise, which is well-equipped inside (nearly all Corsas come with plenty of kit, mind). It also sports black 16-inch alloy wheels, with black pillars and body-colour doorhandles.

However, it retains the smoother-riding, slightly quieter Comfort chassis settings that are standard across most of the range. Opt for 17-inch wheels, though, and you'll get a Corsa with a firmer Sport chassis.

What's it like?

Vauxhall's 1.4 turbo engine is closely related to previous editions but it has been repurposed in the latest Corsa to put deliver more mid-range torque, lower CO2 emissions and improved fuel consumption.

You can see the evidence in the engine’s published specification: the generous maximum torque of 147lb ft is delivered over a flat peak between 1850 and 3500rpm but its peak power amounts to just 99bhp, fully 30 per cent less than more performance-oriented turbocharged rivals of the same capacity.

The engine starts and idles quietly, and is very smooth at low revs, but it pulls robustly as soon as the driver engages the clutch from standstill – and it delivers very docile low-end performance. Thrust is strong in the 2000rpm to 3500rpm range, but it starts to tail off in the 4000s and by 4700rpm you’re better off changing up, much like a diesel.

The benefit is claimed combined fuel consumption of 55.4mpg, and official CO2 emissions of 119g/km, low enough to save an owner from having to shell out on road tax in the first year, and limiting it to £30 in the second.

In fact, this may well be the perfect engine choice for someone who likes diesel characteristics but doesn’t want a diesel car. Given the current future over diesel emissions, Vauxhall may well have identified a trend that will grow. But woe betide the driver, used to top-endy petrol engines, who expects strong upper-range passing performance: it’s not there.

Vauxhall prides itself on building cars for the way people really drive and this may well be the perfect example. Once you’ve realised the 1.4T is a petrol engine with diesel characteristics the Corsa is pleasant, long-legged and relaxed. The throttle response is fairly soft, but the whole unit works well with the Comfort chassis.

The new interior gives the whole car a lift, as do its surprising array of standard features like a heated front screen, tyre pressure monitoring and hill-start assist.

Drive a Comfort-equipped car hard and you’ll soon see a need for the Sport chassis that comes with Corsas on 17-inch wheels – it makes the steering feel much crisper and more responsive, and the ride tauter, though both are delivered at the cost of a little more noise and bump-thump.

Should I buy one?

Drive the car first. It turns more decisively towards frugality and low-to-mid range torque than any petrol engine we’ve driven in a while. You’d need to know you were happy with a small petrol four that runs out of puff this side of 5000rpm. Yet the SRi Ecoflex 1.4T will undoubtedly suit many buyers.

It sets out to provide the silent majority of drivers who have made 'Corsa' Europe’s second-biggest nameplate with an economical, easy-driving option, and it succeeds.

Vauxhall Corsa SRi 1.4i Turbo Ecoflex 5dr

Price £13,195; 0-62mph 11.0sec; Top speed 115mph; Economy 53.3mpg; CO2 123g/km; Kerb weight 1180kg; Engine 4 cyls, 1364cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power 99bhp between 3500-6000rpm; Torque 147lb ft between 1850-3500rpm; Gearbox six-speed manual

16 October 2014
Same engine in Astra kicks out 140, previous limited edition Corsa with this engine knocked out 120 so recommend buying one secondhand in a couple of years, chipping it to around 150 and getting a slighty warm hatch in the same vein as a DS3 THP.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

16 October 2014
The point the author was making seems rather lost on you...

18 October 2014
Looks like an old Corsa, would you Adam and Eve it.

16 October 2014
But if it compensates with good economy and perhaps a lowish insurance group, then the tradeoff in horsepower is worthwhile. Still can't get used to the new look though, so it's an academic consideration for me. Incidentally there's discrepancy between the text and table for CO2 emissions (unless the 123gm/km figure relates to the larger wheel size perhaps?)

16 October 2014
I like the strong torque characteristics of the diesel van I drive for work, but as a low mileage, mainly urban driver I wouldn't want the reliability and potential cost issues of a diesel for my own transport. So, a torquey and potentially economical petrol like this would suit me fine. I'm still not sure about the looks, but at competitive prices it might be worth a look.

16 October 2014
I don't know how they dare stick an SRi badge on something that is approx 0,2 secs slower to sixty than the old non-turbo'd 1.3 SR Nova was back in the late eighties. A bit embarrasing if you ask me.

16 October 2014
it all depends on its crash resistance... with a sat nav screen so low down the centre stack, it will soon be known as the Vauxhall Crasha... how a supposedly world class design team can get this so wrong! Eyes on the road ahead please...

Wake up GM, you can do better and you should do better !

17 October 2014
... which indicated by the driving characteristics of the engine, imply that in normal driving a person rarely will have to employee much throttle. The strong low down torque moreover will mean, the car will be able to handle fairly tallish gearing. Which means in combination with the torque characteristics and comfort oriented chassis settings. That this car should make very comfortable cruiser on the one hand, and on the other a supreme town car. I can see this suiting very many. But I'm sure there will be after market chip sets on offer. For those who want different state of tune. Sure that engine can probably pull 150 bhp. without stretching it to any substantial degree.

17 October 2014
99bhp and 0-60 in 11 secs from a 1.4T? It just sounds all wrong, especially when compared to Fords 3 cyl 1.0T. And there's another design flaw. One benefit the current Corsa has over it's rivals is load lugging ability but with the new Corsa? It's already been pointed out that even mid-range spec cars do not come with split folding rear seats as standard, but what's going on in photo 7 above? An adjustable boot floor is an option but neither position creates a flat load bay? There's a heftly lip when the rear-seats are folded and what looks like a gap when the floor is in it's raised position. For such a modern car, that reeks of cheap design. Just looks like their engineers couldn't be bothered. The more I see this car the more I hate it.

17 October 2014
As you can see in the black car of the picture gallery.

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